On a quiet, bright August day in 1919, 9-year-old Ray Robinson, his sister, and a group of friends were walking along the roadside in New Castle, Pennsylvania in search of excitement or simply something to pass the time. The group walked until something caught their eye: a bird’s nest, perched high in a tree next to an old trolley trestle. Ray, the adventurous type, decided to climb the trestle to get a closer look, but in his effort to scale the tree and avoid falling, he reached for a wire that once powered the trolley. Sadly, the wire was still active and Ray was electrocuted. In the recent past, about a year prior, another boy had died from touching the wire after two weeks in hospital. Ray survived the incident, though he was severely electrocuted. His face was terribly disfigured, his nose and eyes were destroyed, his arms were maimed, and he lost one hand completely. He endured tremendous suffering and was considered a medical marvel by the doctors and nurses who worked to keep him comfortable during his recovery.
Unfortunately, in the 1900’s, it was customary to hide the “shame” of a disfigured child, so Ray left the hospital and wound up isolated in a room in his family home. Many Victorian homes during that time featured rooms that had drains and plumbing in them, so it was easy enough to keep Ray away from the public eye. He wasn’t mistreated, but his family would eat separately from him and he was hidden away from the world. Ray tried to make the best of his situation, listening to baseball games on his radio and learning braille. He also learned to make wallets, belts, and doormats out of old tires. As a young adult, Ray moved from the main house into a small apartment that his family had created for him in the garage and it wasn’t long before he began to crave freedom. It was about that time that Ray began walking the highways alone at night and an urban legend was born. On many a quiet night on a stretch of State Route 351 in Koppel, Pennsylvania, Ray Robinson could be found tapping along the roadside with his cane. Locals would even make a point to drive the road he was mostly seen on in order to catch a glimpse of the walking urban legend. For the most part, Ray hid from his neighbors and those looking to gawk, but he would sometimes exchange a conversation or a photograph for beer or cigarettes. Ray met many people on the road, some simply curious and others heartlessly cruel, be he was undeterred. He was even struck by cars on more than one occasion, but Ray would take his nightly walks until he retired to Beaver County Geriatric Center. He died there in 1985 at the age of 74.
So…Ray Robinson was a man who lived and died in Pennsylvania who was the victim of a terrible accident and set of circumstances that forever changed his life. He was NOT a glowing mutant… Stay with me here. It’s quite fascinating to think that Ray is the reason this urban legend exists, but nevertheless, it does. On the outskirts of Pittsburgh, there sits a derelict railroad tunnel. It’s covered in graffiti and filled with road salt, but this is where visitors claim to see the Green Man. It’s called the Green Man Tunnel and it’s said that teens who drive their cars into the tunnel, turn off their lights, and call out to the Green Man will be rewarded with a visit from this creature. Supposedly, his skin is tinged green from an electrical accident and, if he comes close enough to touch your car, his electrical charge will either stall the engine or make the car difficult to restart.
The Green Man is also sighted in Youngstown, Ohio, in a rural spot called Zombie Land. There, the horribly disfigured Green Man said to have been electrocuted by a lightning strike (or in an electrical accident, or turned radioactive while working at the power plant, depending on who you ask,) wanders the roads at night with his glowing green skin. He chases anyone he comes across and teenagers still drive out to the area at night hoping to catch a glimpse of the creature.
These accounts should be taken with a grain of salt and I have no idea where the glowing green skin came from. Perhaps Ray’s affinity for a particular green plaid shirt or other green clothing reflected off his skin as motorists cast their lights at him? He was apparently quite pale due to a lack of being outside during daylight hours. It’s also been said that Ray’s nose, or what was left of it, would often become infected and turn green. Perhaps that’s where the name came from.
Green Man’s Legend Continues to Glow
“Pat Temple, now 58 and a printer who works the overnight shift at the Post-Gazette, says the Green Man made such an indelible impression on him that he’s written a story to keep it alive for his grandkids. His tale goes back to 1956 when he and Ray Griffin were 16-year-old Lawrenceville pals.
“One evening in June,” he writes, “Ray and I were hanging out with two other friends — Guy Muto and Jim Walsh — and as we had nothing better to do, Ray suggested that we go up to see the Green Man. This was an offer I couldn’t refuse.”
They piled into Temple’s ’51 Ford and headed north for the Turnpike, which they took to Route 18, then followed that to the light in Koppel, turning left on Route 351.
“As soon as we started up the road,” his story continues, “Ray announced that is the road the Green Man always walked on. There was a long silence and I could feel the goosebumps and when we finally did say something, we seemed to be whispering.”
Perhaps inevitably, Temple recalls that “it was a bit foggy and the visibility was not real good at times.” As they came around a bend, “Ray yelled, ‘There he is!’ and the car lights shined directly on the Green Man.”
Temple, who was driving, describes nervously hitting the brakes, then the gas, then the brakes, while chattering with his similarly freaking friends.
They turned around and passed the Green Man once more, but were too terrified to stop.
Still, their exploit was impressive enough that older boys actually spoke to them about it. “We were still the same jerks that we were before … but now we were minor celebrities.”
That summer, Temple returned many times — sometimes with those buddies, sometimes with others. In fact, he recalls traffic jams caused by cruisers who actually stopped to talk with the Green Man. The first time Temple did that, he got a parking ticket (he came to believe that “the local police used the Green Man to make the township a few extra dollars”).
Later, after asking the Green Man if he could, Temple snapped some color photographs of him.”
Basically, if you grew up in Western Pennsylvania in the 1950’s, you knew the legend of the Green Man. You also might have met him along the road, had a smoke and a beer with him, and learned that he was one of the nicest people in the world. Apparently, he was a pretty cool dude.
Now, I know what you’re thinking… “Where does Mel Gibson fit into all of this?!”
Well, I’ll tell you.
Around 2000, a chain letter began circulating about a particularly famous individual who had been severely beaten, his face disfigured like Ray Robinson’s, and had rocketed to stardom. As chain letters go, it was pretty well written and a lot of people fell for the content. It had supposedly been written by Paul Harvey, a radio commentator, but nothing could have been further from the truth…except for this story/chain letter from Snopes.com. I didn’t edit it because I wanted the true terribleness and unbelievability of this to really shine.
“Here is a true story by Paul Harvey. Pass it to anyone who you think would find it interesting and inspiring. You will be surprised who this young man turned out to be. (Do not look at the bottom if this letter until you have read it fully.)
Years ago a hardworking man took his family from New York State to Australia to take advantage of a work opportunity there. Part of this man’s family was a handsome young son who had aspirations of joining the circus as a trapeze artist or an actor. This young fellow, biding his time until a circus job or even one as a stagehand came along, worked at the local shipyards which bordered on the worst section of town. Walking home from work one evening this young man was attacked by five thugs who wanted to rob him. Instead of just giving up his money the young fellow resisted. However they bested him easily and proceeded to beat him to a pulp. They mashed his face with their boots, and kicked and beat his body brutally with clubs, leaving him for dead. When the police happened to find him lying in the road they assumed he was dead and called for the Morgue Wagon.
On the way to the morgue a policeman heard him gasp for air, and they immediately took him to the emergency unit at the hospital. When he was placed on a gurney a nurse remarked to her horror, that his young man no longer had a face. Each eye socket was smashed, his skull, legs, and arms fractured, his nose literally hanging from his face, all is teeth were gone, and his jaw was almost completely torn from his skull. Although his life was spared he spent over year in the hospital. When he finally left his body may have healed but his face was disgusting to look at. He was no longer the handsome youth that everyone admired.
When the young man started to look for work again he was turned down by everyone just on account of the way he looked. One potential employer suggested to him that he join the freak show at the circus as The Man Who Had No Face. And he did this for a while. He was still rejected by everyone and no one wanted to be seen in his company. He had thoughts of suicide. This went on for five years.
One day he passed a church and sought some solace there. Entering the church he encountered a priest who had saw him sobbing while kneeling in a pew. The priest took pity on him and took him to the rectory where they talked at length. The priest was impressed with him to such a degree that he said that he would do everything possible for him that could be done to restore his dignity and life, if the young man would promise to be the best Catholic he could be, and trust in God’s mercy to free him from his torturous life. The young man went to Mass and communion every day, and after thanking God for saving his life, asked God to only give him peace of mind and the grace to be the best man he could ever be in His eyes.
The priest, through his personal contacts was able to secure the services of the best plastic surgeon in Australia. They would be no cost to the young man, as the doctor was the priest’s best friend. The doctor too was so impressed by the young man, whose outlook now on life, even though he had experienced the worse was filled with good humor and love.
The surgery was a miraculous success. All the best dental work was also done for him. The young man became everything he promised God he would be. He was also blessed with a wonderful, beautiful wife, and many children, and success in an industry which would have been the furthest thing from his mind as a career if not for the goodness of God and the love of the people who cared for him. This he acknowledges publicly.
The young man . . .
His life was the inspiration for his production of the movie “The Man Without A Face.” He is to be admired by all of us as a God fearing man, a political conservative, and an example to all as a true man of courage.”
A thousand miles of NOPE.
The young man was absolutely NOT Mel Gibson. Not even close. Gibson’s father did move the family from New York to Sydney, Australia, when Mel was only 12 years old, but the similarities end there. Just another interesting twist on the Green Man/Charlie No-Face/Ray Robinson legend. I’ve even seen photos of Ray used to accompany this chain letter to add a touch of credibility. Just ridiculous.
Have you ever met Ray Robinson? Do you or your family members have stories about him or tales from your part of the country about the Green Man or Charlie No-Face? We want to hear about it!
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Urban legend of green man.